Classification of the genus Acacia (in the wider sense) has been subject to considerable debate. It is generally agreed that there are valid reasons for breaking it up into several distinct genera, but there has been disagreement over the way this should be done. As of 2017, it is widely (but not completely) accepted that the section that includes the majority of the Australian species should retain the name Acacia, whilst other sections of the genus should be transferred to other genera. This species is transferred to Vachellia[
Acacia drepanolobium Harms ex Y.Sjöstedt
Acacia formicarum Harms
Acacia lathouwersii Staner
Vachellia drepanolobium is a slender shrub or a tree, with short branches radiating from main stem, or sometimes with an open spreading top, usually growing 1 - 5 metres tall, occasionally reaching 8 metres[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials. It is harvested on a commercial scale for its gum and is also cultivated for the production of the gum in Tanzania[
Especially in times of drought, many Acacia species can concentrate high levels of the toxin Hydrogen cyanide in their foliage, making them dangerous for herbivores to eat.
Eastern Tropical Africa - Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania
Shrub and dwarf-tree grassland, usually on hard-pan grey soils or heavy black soils; grassland, often gregarious over large areas liable to flooding; at elevations from 20 - 2,680 metres[
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Vachellia drepanolobium grows in tropical regions of eastern Africa in areas where the mean annual rainfal is within the range 500 - 1,300mm[
Vachellia drepanolobium is probably the most common Acacia in eastern Africa and, in areas such as Ethiopia it is considered by some to be an invasive species that reduces the quality of pasture on the range. Other research, however, has suggested that it can actually lead to an increase in productivity and palatability of the range by encouraging more productive grass species to grow under its canopy[
This species is cultivated in parts of east Africa for the production of gum arabic[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.
]. Soft and fleshy, with a sweet, often slightly bitter flavour[
]. The galls need to be eaten young, before they are bored into by the ants that live on the tree. Older galls are hard, fibrous and unpalatable[
Young pods - eaten as a vegetable[
]. Rather fibrous, but it has a sweetish bitter taste and can be chewed[
The bark and roots have medicinal uses[
The bark of all Acacia species contains greater or lesser quantities of tannins and are astringent. Astringents are often used medicinally - taken internally, for example. they are used in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery, and can also be helpful in cases of internal bleeding. Applied externally, often as a wash, they are used to treat wounds and other skin problems, haemorrhoids, perspiring feet, some eye problems, as a mouth wash etc[
Many Acacia trees also yield greater or lesser quantities of a gum from the trunk and stems. This is sometimes taken internally in the treatment of diarrhoea and haemorrhoids[
The flowers are a good source of nectar for bees[
A gum is obtained from the trunk and branches[
]. Known as East African Gum Arabic, it is used like gum arabic (Vachellia nilotica)[
The prickly branches are used to make stock-proof fences[
The wood is a good fuel[
The seed of most, if not all, members of this genus has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing.
Acacia seeds that have matured fully on the bush and have been properly dried have a hard seed coat and can be stored in closed containers without deterioration for 5 - 10 years or more in dry conditions at ambient temperatures. It is best to remove the aril, which attracts weevils and can lead to moulds forming. The arils are easilyremoved by placing the seeds in water and rubbing them between the hands, then drying the seeds and winnowing them[
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